Though individual owners are responsible for maintenance issues within their lots, strata managers are still faced with the responsibility of maintaining all common areas. While this does reduce some of the burden on strata managers and owners corporations, it’s still of vital importance that managers have a clear understanding of the more common issues, all of which require prompt attention. These can include relatively minor concerns, but will also include major repairs and maintenance which can become quite expensive to address if left unchecked.
Determining Responsibility for Maintenance Issues
In a strata scheme, it’s not uncommon for confusion or disputes to arise in relation to maintenance. While it’s always important for owners corporations and strata managers to carefully review a strata plan, there is one general rule which will typically clarify ultimate responsibility for repairs and maintenance: issues within the airspace of a unit are the responsibility of the individual owner, while everything outside of this space is considered common property. All common property maintenance concerns are the responsibility of the owners corporation, and should be overseen by strata managers.
Minor Maintenance Issues for Strata Managers
One of the best and most effective ways of preventing large-scale damage is often to address relatively small maintenance issues before they worsen due to neglect.
- Pest Control – This is one of the best examples of a small concern which can become a very real problem if left unchecked. Termites, for example, can cause substantial damage to the entire property if they’re undetected.
- Guttering – Damaged or blocked guttering may not properly divert the flow of water away from sensitive areas, like a building’s foundation. Over time, this can cause significant damage which could have been easily avoided with simple gutter maintenance.
- Entrance Doors and Security – Doors which open into a common lobby or vestibule are the responsibility of the owners corporation. Damaged security features can leave all residents more vulnerable, so it’s important for strata managers to keep an eye out for any damage or wear.
- Plumbing Leaks – While some plumbing leaks will be the responsibility of individual owners, any pipes within a shared wall or on common property is left up to strata managers. A small leak or blockage is a minor repair, but ignoring the issue can cause substantial water damage.
Major Maintenance Projects for Strata Managers
Larger works and repair projects can be expensive and disruptive to the community, but they’re also essential to the soundness and value of the property. These are just a few of the larger issues strata managers should monitor to avoid potentially damaging and expensive problems.
- Roofing – One of the more expensive maintenance responsibilities strata managers will face is the necessity of roof replacement or repair. While some smaller issues may be relatively inexpensive to address, they’re not always easily detected and can quickly worsen.
- Balcony and Decking – Collapsed balconies and decking is an ongoing danger for Australian home and property owners, causing the potential for severe injury or even death. In most cases, strata managers are responsible for maintaining decking and balcony areas which were part of the building’s original construction, and individual owners are responsible for structures they have built, though your particular strata plan may be different.
- Wall Cracks and Subsidence – The erosion of soil beneath a building or problems with the foundation can cause significant damage to a property. Any signs of wall cracks, subsidence or foundation trouble should be addressed immediately.
- Waterproofing – Rising damp and excessive moisture are a leading cause of structural damage. Any signs of moisture damage or water incursion should be considered pressing and time-sensitive issues by strata managers.
While this list does draw attention to some of the more common maintenance issues faced by strata managers, it’s by no means an exhaustive one. There are a myriad of areas which require regular inspection and maintenance, many of which can fall victim to issues which are not immediately obvious to the untrained eye. For most strata managers, the best solution is to partner with a professional building inspection company in order to schedule regular inspections. This allows managers to apprise themselves of potential maintenance issues by working with a neutral party with no financial stake in repairs, eliminating the potential of conflict of interest issues.
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